Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Think about the past hour’s minutiae — words, deeds, motivations, distractions, every last specific decision and action charting a course to this new hour. Impossible, isn’t it?
Try duplicating, and slightly diverting from, that hour to foil several exponential versions of yourself from inheriting your life. That’s the hook for 2007’s Timecrimes — a nefarious, ingeniously rigged time-travel thriller about a lazy afternoon turned paradoxical nightmare.
Writer-director Nacho Vigalondo makes no bones about huh-but-wait-no-see-uh storytelling. At a certain point, it can’t even be assumed you entered this tale at the beginning, and attention must be undivided.
But unlike the oft-heralded, similarly twisty Primer’s revelry in making you feel stupid, Timecrimes rewards this mental absorption — never inflating stakes, science or suspense for snobbery’s sake and playing fair, no matter how treacherous “fair” seems.
Timecrimes threatens only a man, his wife, a bicyclist and a scientist at a lab in the woods. (Avoiding merely vainglorious self-insertion a la M. Night Shyamalan, Vigalondo plays the scientist, who must have minored in friendly exposition.)
They’re all pawns in a minor time loop with major implications, beset by a scissors-wielding prowler whose gauze-swabbed face makes him look like an escapee from Clive Barker’s id.
Watching Timecrimes is like fumbling for bearings in a pitch-black haunted house. Hitting walls where paths should be proves more fun than frustrating, and Vigalondo inventively gooses time-travel tropes of choice versus fate.
Even with five minutes left, Timecrimes could conclude in any number of ways — proof its hindsight, and foresight, is 20-20.